Officials report fatal plane crash near Stapleton


STAPLETON, Alabama — The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed two deaths from a small plane crash Tuesday night in a wooded area near Stapleton.

Capt. Clint Cadenhead with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Central Investigations Command confirmed Wednesday that the small plane was carrying two passengers when it crashed just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday in a heavily wooded area in the area of Mosley Road in Stapleton. There were no survivors.

According to news media reports, the plane, a five-seat Beechcraft Bonanza owned by QT Flyers LLC based in Florence, took off from the Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores at around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday and was last seen around 7:01 p.m.

According to an email sent by Cadenhead Wednesday morning, the Baldwin County Coroner’s Office confirmed the identity of one of the occupants as 65-year-old Timothy Ray Rhodes of Florence. The identity of the second victim, which Cadenhead identified as female, has yet to be confirmed.

Cadenhead said BCSO received the call at around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday when the crash was spotted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

Just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office reported on social media that deputies and fire units were headed to the scene of a “general aviation plane crash.”

More than two hours later, BCSO posted that fire department units were able to make their way to the crash site by the use of ATVs.

“This was a heavily wooded area,” Cadenhead said. “There were no homes in the area and no roads leading up to the crash site, so it took crews a couple of hours to get to the site.”

Both victims were transported from the scene by ATV, then transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Mobile.

In addition to BCSO deputies and U.S. Coast Guard officials, Cadenhead said, officers with the Loxley Police Department, fire crews from Styx River, Loxley and Stapleton also responded to the crash.

According to the email sent by Cadenhead, investigators met with Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board personnel Wednesday morning. The NTSB will be the primary investigative agency handling the case, along with the Baldwin County Coroner’s Office.